Track By Track Review: 2nd Law
Muse has begun to belong to a plethora of bands that does whatever the hell they want, resulting in either pleasing or pissing off their fan base without a care in the world. In my eyes, that's what makes them so awesome. No matter how cynical I get with this band, I can never dismiss them because of their brave and unfaltering stance in their music's evolution. The 2nd Law is their sixth album and out of their whole catalogue, this is by far their most diverse genre and style wise. Let's go track by track.
The starter track is the amalgamation of what Muse has explored in the past 13 years. Heavy guitar riffs, brass and string orchestra, swooning to screaming falsetto and overall bombastic. A very good start to the album. 4.5/5
Just in advance, I will mention Queen a few times in this review and this song is one of the heavily inspired ones, particularly reminiscent of "I Want To Break Free" but also one of the highlights of the album. Not because it's the good old Muse, but because it's a very admirable departure from their old work and a brave dive into dub-step, dance territory while at the same time taking the Queen inspiration to subtlety than something blatant. Fortunately, rather than being drowned in the influence, it comes off as an evolution into their experimentation with electronic music from Black Holes and Revelations, their 4th album. With a trance like tempo, dub-step like bass and probably one of Bellamy's best vocal performance, Madness is certain to be a live staple. 5/5
3. Panic Station
This was a shocking surprise of a song for me. Not only is this a giant departure from Muse's previous musical work, it is probably the most upbeat and pop like song Muse has ever done. Going back to Queen again, the beginning reminded me of "Another One Bites The Dust" but thankfully, it doesn't keep to that tone. The whole song sounds like something from the 80's synthpop without the synth and it is also one of the most solid (and surprising) songs on the album. 4.5/5
Ummm... Yeah, it's an intermission with Exogenesis like orchestra. Which leads to....
The song chosen for the 2012 London Olympics and what a great choice of song. This song represent the over the top style and bombastic, crowd pleasing sound the band is very well known for. Barbaric choirs, heavy thumping drums and heavy guitar solos ensure this song as another live staple and another album highlight. 5/5
6. Follow Me
After Madness, this is another one of the dub-step influenced songs in the album. This one if more of a club song in comparison to Madness. The first half is the typical Muse build up then it slowly transitions to dub-step like drums. An okay song but nothing special. 3.5/5
This is the best song in the entire album. It is the most understated song in the album as its soothing electric keyboard, smooth guitar work and surprisingly complex composition contrasts against the usual bombast of the more louder songs. This is the prime example of how Muse should expand their sound. 5/5
In a Muse album, their is always a mellow song that comes in usually in the middle of the album. This is another one and in my opinion, this is one of their best slow songs. With a slight hint of The Flaming Lips and of course, Queen, it has a great chorus, it uses the orchestra beautifully and Bellamy's vocals are as wondrous as ever. 5/5
9. Big Freeze
Probably the most forgettable and the weakest song in the album. I have listened to this song about 5 times and I still can't remember how the melody goes. I don't know, the whole song just felt lazy to me. It does use the Map of the Problematique effect but it's more subtle. 2/5
10. Save Me
This is the point in the album where it loses consistency and flow. This song is one of the two songs written and sang by Muse's bass guitarist, Chris Wolstenholm. Chris has an impressive vocal style and to be quite honest, he's a bit better than Bellamy in terms of lyrics. Overall, this song is okay but it felt like it was too much of a change of pace that you need to get use to after 8 tracks of Bellamy's voice. 3/5
11. Liquid State
Definitely the heaviest song in the entire album and one of the other Wolstenholm songs. This song sounds more like Foo Fighters than Muse because of Chris' vocal style and overall rhythm. Overall, a pretty good song. 4/5
12. The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
The song responsible for polarizing the Muse fan base. I'm a bit hit or miss with this song. While the choir and orchestra is amazing, especially in the middle where Bellamy joins in with a falsetto, the Skrillex style guitar work in between makes this song kind of deformed than beautiful. I wish it would've stayed as an orchestral piece. 2.5/5
13. The 2nd Law: Isolated System
Probably the strangest album closer I have ever heard in a Muse album. Mostly an instrumental piece, it stays on the same tone throughout with a subtle orchestra and some dialogue samples in between. Not a memorable instrumental but to be honest, this should have been the opener instead, with Prelude and Survival becoming the closers. 3.5/5
The first half of the album is definitely the strongest parts which follows good to great songs after songs. It does stumble when the Chris Wolstenholm songs come in, which takes you out of the album's feel of being a Muse album and The 2nd Law song duos doesn't impress much. Overall, I think this album is a lot better than their last album, The Resistance and it shows how varied the band can be in terms of nearly any genre. No two songs sounds the same, even if it has the same influences. The album does suffer from being too much of a departure from their usual heavy sound, this album having the most departure in their entire catalogue which can be polarizing in terms of preference.